Our stay at Eden Eco Village was one of the things I was most looking forward to on this trip.
Like a lot of other highly-anticipated things, this one didn’t live up to my expectations, and to no fault of Eden. Let’s see, where do I begin.
Oh yes, this will do.
If you remember from my last post, on our way to Phnom Penh we ended up with a flat tire. After leaving our friends the night before, we took another VIP van with Mekong Express to the town of Kampot. I would like to reiterate that this was in no way a reflection of the service we received from Mekong Express. When your “highway” looks like this, then there’s bound to be a mishap…
Turns out, “highway” number 4 from Phnom Penh to Kampot is quite possibly the worst road I’ve ever been on in my life. First, driving in Cambodia is nerve-racking, to say the least. The first rule of driving in Cambodia is “there are no rules”. Theoretically, it seems that the driving rules are similar to those in America or Europe, but instead of you know, staying in a line of traffic, it’s “gun-it-until-you-reach-a-slower-object (car, scooter, pedestrian)-slam-on-breaks-swerve-and-keep-going”.
This style driving, combined with a case of the “Irish flu” from the night before, a pot-hole riddled “highway” and 30°C (86°F) temps made for a fun ride. And if you’re Shane, who came down with the actual flu… well. Tie him up and throw him in a river because he was dead. (Sorry Marsha, we didn’t tell you this at the time…)
What was wrong with the van? We hit a pothole so big that it knocked the spare tire loose from underneath and we were dragging it. After about 30 minutes it was successfully reattached and we were on our way again.
A 3-hour trip turned into a 5-hour trip, but regardless we made it to Kampot. I can’t say this enough. The road was so bad at one point I looked at the GPS, it said we were about 30km (18mi) away. Think of a normal highway, you’d be there in 15 min? We still had 1 HOUR of travel time left.
Eden Eco Village was located about 5km (3mi) outside the city of Kampot. Our instructions to get there: “Take a tuk-tuk across the new bridge and down the dirt road until you see the signs.”
Hm. Ok then.
To our somewhat delight, this worked!
We showed the tuk-tuk driver and he knew exactly where to go. Over a newer looking bridge and down a dirt road until we saw the signs for Eden. That part was delightful. What was not so delightful was the dirt road itself, which was red mud, puddles, and potholes the entire trip pushing Shane to the edge of vomit.
I was most excited about this place because we were staying in a bungalow on the side of the river where you could literally jump off your bungalow porch and swim!
Remember how I said Shane was on the edge of vomit?
The only thing he did off the edge of our bungalow was puke. Multiple times. Poor guy.
My idyllic time at Eden was off to a great start. A sick husband was not something I (or he) anticipated.
We only had two nights here, which was and wasn’t enough time. I think if Shane had been healthy then we would have loved to stay longer. But with him sick, and the relenting heat (and – sorry Eden, my only true complaint) weak fans in the bungalow it wasn’t as magical as I had imagined it to be.
But, as we would come to learn by the end of our time in Cambodia, having expectations is your first mistake. Better to just experience things for what they are.
On our only full day, I knew I wanted to swim in the river and I wanted to do something active. We had been mostly touring cities, so now that we were actually out in the countryside I wanted to see it. Eden provided (for free) bicycles and a list of activities in the area so I forced Sis to go on a hike with me. The boys, not up for an athletic adventure, stayed behind while Sis and I went out to tackle White Mountain.
Following what I would refer to as “country boy” directions – “turn left on the road by the school that goes through the two overhanging trees towards a chainlink fence” – we had a lovely ride through the surrounding local village.
And back through the village when we missed the turn.
And for another time when we missed the turn again.
Third time’s a charm though and we found the path towards the chainlink fence all the while getting waved at by the friendliest children on their way to school.
Our directions described the hike as “short but strenuous with a little bit of scrambling”.
That description was 100% accurate as Sis and I were gasping for air by the time we reached the top. The view was worth it though.
A successful hike required an afternoon dip in the river!
Keeping with the theme, this wasn’t as relaxing as expected, cause you know… river currents! HAH! It was refreshingly cool but MAN did you have to work to stay in front of the bungalows! Something about that flowing river…
Dear Eden, I suggest ropes with a carabiner to attach you to your bungalow for worry-free floating..
And that about wrapped our time at Eden and in the Kampot area.
As I said before, I was so excited to come here but because of the road, it did feel very isolated. It’s definitely the type of place you go to enjoy nature and just relax with no agenda. I mean look at this bungalow!
But, being isolated when one of your group is sick made me a little nervous. And, to top it off, we discovered during our time in Eden that Terry picked up a foot parasite (sorry Terr Bear if you didn’t want this on the blog!). No worries, it turns out they are quite common – even in America – and he could have gotten it anywhere. He took it in stride, even named it Riley, and it was cured with a bumpy ride on the back of a random guys scooter to the “good” hospital for medicine.
If you have the chance to visit Eden Eco Village though, I would definitely do it. The bungalows are beautiful, they are (as the name suggests) eco-friendly by using solar power and reusing where possible. And they work very closely with the local community, giving them jobs and teaching English along the way. And I cannot say this loud enough, but THE FOOD! Ah, it was so amazing. I mean look at this salad!
All the food was made to order and literally, nothing was bad. I think we might have tried the entire menu. If you go, don’t skip the coconut milkshakes!
So, while it seemed like nothing went quite right in the two days since our group of 6 became a group of 4, all in all, our time in Kampot was too short.
We headed out the next day for our final stop in Cambodia,
the island of Koh Rong!
More to come soon!